Mario Lemieux and Ed Rendell were often at odds during the negotiations over a new arena for the Pittsburgh Penguins, but they're on the same team in the presidential sweepstakes, lining up among the early Pennsylvania donors to the campaign of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Presidential candidates recently released their initial 2007 fund-raising totals, offering the first scorecard in what is certain to be a record-breaking financial battle for the White House.
Despite the appearances of a few big names, the Federal Election Commission filings show that Pennsylvania hasn't been a major player in the money race so far. And the Pittsburgh region in particular has barely opened its checkbook.
Mrs. Clinton has the early lead in the state, raising $455,126, a relatively small fraction of the $35 million she has collected nationwide. According to an analysis of the FEC data by the Center for Responsive Politics, Sen. Barack Obama recorded the second-largest volume of Pennsylvania receipts, with $417,433. Former Sen. John Edwards has raised $354,485.
The greatest GOP total, but only the fourth highest overall, was the $267,600 raised by former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. He was followed by Sen. John McCain, $218,468; and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, with $106,800.
Sen. Joseph Biden, the fourth-place Democrat, took in more cash from the state than any Republican candidates except Mr. Giuliani. A Scranton native, the Delaware lawmaker has often described himself as Pennsylvania's third senator. He was the Pittsburgh region's leading candidate in the early money list, taking in $39,200 from the metropolitan area. Mr. Romney was the top Republican on the local list, with $30,150, followed by Mr. Edwards, with $27,950; Mr. Obama, $18,550; Mr. Giuliani, $19,550; Mrs. Clinton, $14,525; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, $6,700; and Mr. McCain, with just $5,138 in Pittsburgh region dollars.
Mr. Lemieux's name on the Clinton list was novel in that he is a registered Republican who doesn't have a track record as a political contributor. The last donation in his name the Post-Gazette could find was a 1999 contribution of $500 to former Sen. Rick Santorum. But California billionaire Ron Burkle, a friend of and major fund-raiser for both the New York senator and former President Bill Clinton, is now a major investor in Mr. Lemieux's Penguins. Mr. Lemieux gave the New York senator $2,300, the maximum permitted for a primary campaign.
A spokesman for Mr. Rendell cautioned against reading too much into his $2,300 contribution to the Clinton campaign. Mr. Rendell also gave the FEC maximum to his fellow governor, Mr. Richardson.
"These are personal contributions to people he's known a long time,'' said spokesman Chuck Ardo.
Mr. Rendell served as general chairman of the Democratic National Committee during the Clinton administration while Mr. Richardson was energy secretary,
Mr. Ardo emphasized that Mr. Rendell hasn't endorsed any candidate in the Democratic field.
"And he has no intentions of doing so anytime soon," he added.
Big Democratic lead
In Pennsylvania, as in the nation as a whole, the first quarter fund-raising was striking in that the Democratic field far out-raised the Republicans. The bulk of the state's fund-raising activity took place in the Philadelphia area. The top five donor zip codes were in Center City Philadelphia and the Main Line, according to the Center for Responsive Politics analysis.
Mrs. Clinton's receipts followed that pattern. Among her Philadelphia-based contributors, in addition to the governor, were David Cohen, the Comcast executive who was Mr. Rendell's chief of staff when he was mayor of Philadelphia; Joe Banner, the CEO of the Philadelphia Eagles; Joseph Hoeffel, the former congressman and U.S. Senate candidate who is running for Montgomery County commissioner; former state House Speaker Bob O'Donnell; lobbyist Stephen Wojdak; and Tom Leonard, the former city controller.
Pittsburghers on her list include David Morehouse, the former aide to Sen. John F. Kerry who is the new president of the Penguins, and Lazar Palnick, a businessman who is a longtime friend and supporter of the Clintons.
While trailing Mrs. Clinton in his Pennsylvania total, Mr. Obama had more individual donors. Among them was Peter Buttenwieser, the Philadelphia financier with a national reputation as one of the party's fund-raising heavyweights.
Mr. Buttenwieser also shows up on the list of Mr. Edwards' contributors, along with Barbara Hafer, the Republican-turned Democrat who served as state treasurer and auditor general. The North Carolinian's campaign was boosted by fellow trial lawyers across the state and the nation, among them a half-dozen members of the Pittsburgh law firm of Caroselli Beachler McTiernan, who helped bolster his financial bragging rights with a brace of four-figure donations on March 30, the last day of the first quarter reporting period.
Mr. Biden did relatively better in Pennsylvania than in the nation as a whole. His report was boosted by numerous contributions from his hometown of Scranton and several from Pittsburgh, where he held a fund-raiser in March. The Biden contributors included Michael Veon, the former House Democratic whip from Beaver County; Daniel Donatella, a Beaver County commissioner; Pittsburgh lawyer and Democratic activist Frederick Frank; and Henry Fisher, of Commonwealth Securities.
The only Republican to raise more Pennsylvania cash than Mr. Biden was Mr. Giuliani. His state supporters included veteran fund-raiser Manuel Stamatakis, of Philadelphia, and Fred Anton, the influential president of the Pennsylvania Manufacturers' Association.
Mr. Cohen, the Comcast executive and Clinton contributor, was also among the Pennsylvania donors to her Senate colleague and potential general election opponent, Mr. McCain. He was one of 10 Comcast executives giving to the Arizona lawmaker, who is a senior member of the Senate Commerce Committee, a panel with jurisdiction over a variety of regulatory issues affecting the telecommunications industry.
Mr. McCain has been endorsed in the race by former governor and Homeland Security secretary Tom Ridge. Mr. McCain's report includes a variety of names associated with the Ridge administration in Harrisburg. David Girard diCarlo, a Bush campaign "Pioneer" who was also Mr. Ridge's chief fund-raiser, is the Pennsylvania finance chief for the Arizona senator. He is a partner of the Philadelphia law firm Blank Rome LLP. Forty-three members of the firm contributed to the McCain campaign.
Other old Ridge hands on the McCain list include former Gov. Mark Schweiker, and Timothy Reeves, who was the former governor's press secretary.
Mr. Romney, the former Massachusetts governor, was third among the Republican fundraisers in the state, although he came in at the top of the GOP contenders' national totals. He was also the most successful Republican in the Pittsburgh area. That's a relatively modest distinction, however, as none of the Republicans has yet raised significant money or had a major fund-raiser here. Among those who have given the FEC maximum to Mr. Romney are Michael Hines, of Upper St. Clair, the chief financial officer of Dick's Sporting Goods; and Timothy Fisher of the Hillman Co. Another local contributor is Kevin Acklin, a GOP candidate for nomination to an at-large seat on Allegheny County Council.
Politics Editor James O'Toole can be reached at 412-263-1562 or email@example.com .